Dear Barack, let's get together on oil and gas

The Prime Minister writes to the President

The CBC reports that the Prime Minister has written to President Barack Obama to broach the subject of “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector,” apparently with Keystone XL in mind.

Sources told CBC News the prime minister is willing to accept targets proposed by the United States for reducing the climate-changing emissions and is prepared to work in concert with Obama to provide whatever political cover he needs to approve the project.

The letter, sent in late August, is a clear signal Canada is prepared to make concessions to get the presidential permit for TransCanada Corp.’s controversial $7-billion pipeline, which will connect the Alberta oilsands to refineries in Texas. But there’s a huge snag. Obama hasn’t said what he wants, or needs, to assuage environmentalists that Keystone XL is in America’s national interest, or to convince congressional Democrats facing re-election next year that it can be approved without sabotaging their campaigns.

Late August puts this letter about a month after the President mused that “there is no doubt that Canada at the source in those tar sands could potentially be doing more to mitigate carbon release.” The Harper government, of course, is twice overdue on the promise of new regulations for the oil and gas sector.

Mr. Obama addressed Keystone XL during a major speech in June, in which he said, “our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution” and “the net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”